Some people use ps over pdf format for their paper.

Are there some advantages of ps format over pdf format?


  • 1
    Could you please provide some context? For paper submission, for storing papers, ... ? This is only for enhancing the quality of the question. The answer is still likely no.
    – user7112
    Feb 13, 2014 at 13:41
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    Some older papers are in ps format because it was popular 15+ years ago, and a few people continue using it to distribute new papers. I could be wrong, but my impression is that it's because they developed a workflow back when ps was popular and don't want to bother with changing it. Not having to change your habits could be considered a kind of advantage, but I'm not posting it as an answer since it is not a general property of the formats. Feb 13, 2014 at 13:51
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    Details from Adobe: PostScript vs. PDF
    – earthling
    Feb 13, 2014 at 14:10
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    Years ago, I learned that Windows users may not by default be able to open postscript documents, even though it's an open standard and quite common. As an undergrad, classmates asked me to convert postscript files the lecturer had sent, to PDF. If this is still the case, postscript can be a way to troll Windows users.
    – gerrit
    Feb 13, 2014 at 14:33
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    @gerrit as far as I know, Windows can open neither ps nor pdf files without third-party programs. Since the pdf format is more common, Windows users are more familiar with it and will often have such a reader already installed. Sometimes the reader is pre-installed (by the computer vendor, not by Microsoft). Feb 15, 2014 at 21:47

3 Answers 3



There are no advantages of PS over PDF.

Any modern computer system that can display PS files can also display PDF files. (The converse is certainly not true.)

Any modern computer system that can produce PS files can also produce PDF files. (Again, the converse is not true.)

Any material that you can present with a PS file can be presented equally well with a PDF file. (Again, the converse is not true.)

  • 5
    Some printers can print ps natively.
    – vadim123
    Feb 13, 2014 at 19:23
  • A good printer should understand PostScript as one of the more common page description languages. PCL is an other one you meet often. Yet partial disagreement with Jukka: despite pdf's tend to be smaller in volume than ps' a showcase like this shows a lot PostScript (here through LaTeX) may offer, so it is not dead.
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 13, 2014 at 22:33
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    @Buttonwood But (at least functionally) PDF is a strict superset of PostScript. Everything in that showcase can be done in PDF as well.
    – JeffE
    Feb 14, 2014 at 11:06

PDF was carefully designed by Adobe to fix some problems with PostScript as a format for interchanging files (as opposed to printing). PostScript was a full-fledged programming language, which means that its behavior could be impossible to predict. For example, people have written programs in PostScript that do things like emulating a calculator. In PDF, they removed just enough of the programming capabilities to make the behavior of a PDF file more predictable. (In technical terms, they made it Turing-incomplete.) This is a good thing, since you don't want to trust someone else's software to run on your computer every time you open their document.

This was all great in theory, but more recently Adobe added more programming features back into PDF (by adding javascript), and in fact there are now some security issues associated with PDF. Therefore there is no longer any clear security-based reason to prefer PDF, but in any case PS is essentially obsolete as a document interchange format, and if you give someone a PS file today, they are unlikely to know what it is or how to open it.


As for the final format, no, there are no significant advantages, as the other answers point out. There are however a couple of quirks in TeX (which is the standard typesetting program in many fields) regarding ps and pdf support.

  • pstricks, which is a popular package for producing drawings, only works if you compile to a ps file (there are workarounds, though).

  • microtype, which is a package for making automatically small typographical adjustments to the document and producing a better-looking line breaking, only works if you compile to a pdf file.

So users of the former package are encouraged to use ps, while users of the second are forced to use pdf. Of course there are converters in both directions, so it is not a binding choice.

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